Bill's A & W
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Menu Favorites

Root Beer in Frosted Mugs
Root Beer Floats
Coney Islands
Sloppy Joes
French Fries & Onion Rings
California cheeseburger, a "Classic"
Burger Baskets
Malts & Milkshakes
Peanuts & Popcorn & Candy
& More

Bill's A & W was located near the Lake Street bridge, on the northwest corner of West River Road. 
The owner was Bill Roesner (pronounced, /Rezner/ previously of La Crosse, Wisconsin. 
Did you work there?  What memories or stories do you have? 
Do you have a photo?

"I used to 'live' at Bill's A & W. 
During high school dating, I used to take girls to Bill's for root beers and Coney Islands, then park the car and walk along the river. 
I recall one Sunday while hiking the river with my two Springer spaniels.  I walked up to Bill with the dogs on leashes and ordered a root beer.  Bill gave each of the dogs a cup of water.  Evenings were often spent sitting at Bill's in the car drinking root beer, listening to doo wop, and contemplating the muse."
~ Jack Koblas, SHS '60 3/21/03 ~

"I remember the one day I worked there. 
I took a malt out to a guy who was in a convertible speedster.  He had only his swimming trunks on.  When I tried to attach the tray with the malt on it, well, it dumped into his lap!  I was so mortified at the time.  I then quit and started working in the kitchen at Swedish Hospital.
Looking back on it, I still feel badly for the guy, but I can now see the humor in it.  Memories are fun."
~ Kathleen Savage, SHS '62 4/27/06 ~

"I remember Bill's A & W Drive in.  My wife Sally H. used to work there and that is where we met.  I also remember Dianne E. and Kathy L.  We used to drive Bill crazy with our old black '47 Dodge with bells and whistles."
~ James Benson, SHS '59 ~ 7/16/03

"Used to go there with my boyfriend.  The root beer was probably the best ever concocted.  Wonderful times."
~ Frances Hackel, SHS '47 ~ 10/27/03

"I remember me and my best friend had enough money to buy a gallon [of root beer].  We were so looking forward to going down by the river and drinking it and walking along.  We went under the "old" Lake St. Bridge and set it down and some how it went rolling down the hill with us two chasing after it and it did not break, until the very bottom of the hill.  It hit the right rock the right way.  It was the end of our good day but we talked about it fondly."
~ Curt Schirmer, SHS '71 ~ 6/7/09

"Spent a lot of nights there.  That was were all the gang met.  When it was torn down it was sad to see."
~ Jan (Gustafson) Brady, SHS '56 ~ 10/29/09

"It was my very first job.  Have wonderful memories, not all of them good.  Many a tray went sailing in my first few days on the job.  Think they kept me on because they felt sorry for me.  Was there in 1954 for the season."
~ Kaye Peterson, SHS '54 ~ 3/19/03

"That was our hangout.  Best place in the city.  When I returned on leave from the Air Force I took a new girl I had just met over to Bill's to reconnect.  
I came in the back road from River Road and, as I approached my favorite spot, I was greeted by a pile of orange boards lying in the parking lot.  
Bill's had just been knocked down.  It was very devastating.  
It was like part of my life was now over and home would never be quite the same ever again. 
Even so, I have many great memories of Bill's A & W still with me."

~Terrance Randolph, SHS '65 ~ 3/20/03

Bill's A & W @ Lake Street & River Road
Circa 1950
"As Bill's eldest son I used to work for my father from about the 6th grade
(when I was called over on a busy hot summer Sunday, to hop cars after a carhop called in sick), until I was a college student at the U of M. 

During high school, I used to ride my bike to the drive-in at maybe 9:00 a.m. before the 11:30 opening, sit down with the morning paper and the biggest, thickest chocolate malted I could cram into the metal malt shake mixer.  Ummmm!  Then I would have to go out and pick up paper and debris from the lot and surrounding properties.  Then I would fold many, many popcorn boxes in anticipation for later filling, wash the root beer mugs over
(I don't know why.); they were already clean from the night before.  Dad was a stickler for cleanliness. 

After that I would mix up a huge vat of root beer in the walk-in cooler,
make the dozens of hamburger patties with an extra large ice cream scoop and a patty squeezer, each on it's own square of wax paper. 
Then I would sit down in front of a back room sink with a hundred pound burlap sack of Idaho potatoes; and peel, at times, all of them in one sitting. 
The potatoes then were placed in a manual potato slicer, one by one, to produce the raw material for the best French fries in town. 

About 11:00, dad (Bill) would show up to change fryer oil which he did religiously every week,
turn on the grill and steam table, prepare the Coney Island sauce (a secret recipe to this day) etc. etc. 

I would work through the lunch hour rush, then take off, again on the bicycle, for home at 45th and 45th,
and from there, by bike for the rest of the afternoon to the little beach at Lake Nokomis, for the girls and fun.  After much sun and an ever deeper suntan,
I would reverse my tracks home and shower, and back to the drive-in to work inside filling car hops' orders etc. 

I would then have the duty of driving dad's car, with a car full of carhops
(mostly girls but an occasional guy), back to each of their homes to drop them off after work. 
Dad would not let them go home by any other means--not by themselves, not with boy friends etc.  He trusted Me!???
  Then he would drive me home, pick up my mom, and return to the drive-in for a final clean-up. 

He had the best food that I can still taste. 
No one or place seems to have been able to duplicate it or measure up.
So many more memories.  Cheers,"
~ 10/6/10 ~
Bill Jr.
De La Salle High School '57

More from Bill Jr.

In response to some of my questions...
"Indeed the right side of the building, with the stack of serving strays, is the east side of the building (facing the river and River Road). 
The 'car hops' are not wearing skates, but they are standing on the south, facing the side of the building, which faced the backside of a
Standard Oil gas station and Lake Street."

"The lot was gravel (I know because I once, when in high school, had an accident mounting my bicycle, - in a hurry to get to Lake Nokomis, after working the noon time rush hour, - fell and ground a goodly amount of it into my elbow and right knee).  I quickly jumped up and back onto my bike like nothing had happened and rode, bleeding profusely, home before cleaning it out.  I still have the scars! 
Home then was at 4512 45th Avenue South (about two miles away I think).  It felt like 200.

By the appearance of the 'stand' - 'the root beer stand', (as it was known then in the family), my guess is that the photo was taken +/- 1950. 
My dad bought the place (and the A & W franchise) just after the war (1945/46) when I was in first grade.  I remember transporting a huge load of bags of sugar (still rationed at the time) in an old, pre war, family car from La Crosse, Wisconsin to the stand in Minneapolis.  It was a hot summer day and the car got a flat tire.  I recall sitting in the tall grass roadside while my dad and someone else with us off loaded sugar to get at the spare tire.

The stand initially, had large wooden awnings/shutters which swung inward and up to the ceiling on rope pulleys, leaving the place wide open to the breezes (and the bugs). 
Some time in the early '50s, the shutters came off and a system of glass and screen windows was installed by my dad, during the winter time/off season.

Early on he sold only root beer, peanuts and popcorn.  As time went on, he added ice cream (floats), cigarettes, candy, and finally food. 

I can still taste his chili dogs (which he called 'Coney Islands') a secret recipe he developed, which unfortunately died with him. 
He had the best burgers and French fries in town.  He bought his ground beef from Axel's Meat Market (on 34th Street and 42nd Avenue South); and because he bought in large enough quantities, Axel (a friend of his),
ground up really quality cuts of beef.

I used to peel and slice up potatoes for the fries, up to a single burlap gunny sack (100 lbs.) a day when he was really busy. 
To this day, I remain a skilled (and fast) potato peeler.  His fries were the best crispy fries which to this day, are a measure for me, of good French fries. 
One of his 'secrets' for crispy fries was to never let the oil get 'old', which meant that it was changed on a weekly basis. 

The 'California cheeseburger' was a classic -
(beef patty pre-prepared by me with a large ice cream scoop and flattened with a little hand press), a slice of cheese, some diced raw onions,
slice of tomato, lettuce and mayo and a couple of dill pickle slices, ketchup and mustard. 
The Best!

The popcorn was done with coconut oil, which made for delicious popcorn, but we find today that coconut oil has almost lethal amounts of bad cholesterol.

I used to do early morning cleanups, fold popcorn boxes, clean house, etc.
before the 11:30 opening, all with the benefit of a before hours, custom made, extra large, extra thick, chocolate malted milkshake. 
That, and the morning edition of the Minneapolis Tribune newspaper got me going every summer morning. 
Fond memories.  I could go on but  . . .
Cheers, Bill
~ 3/31/11 ~

KIM . . . please respond!
I received this from a family member, but never received the picture.
This photo was taken in the summer of 1946. My Dad Tom has the original.  It is a small snapshot that my husband Doug cleaned up to get rid of some of the fold marks so it could be enlarged. 
It is of Bill's A&W with some of our family:  my Grandparents Bill and MaryAnn, Aunt Maureen, and Uncle Eddie.  The first time my Granny shared it with me she asked me to find my Dad in the photo. 
It was a trick quest ion. She was pregnant with my Dad, Tom at the time it was taken.  I grew up hearing fun stories about the Drive-In from all my family, each from a different perspective. 
All the boys worked there:  Bill, Jim, Tom, and Greg.  It always sounds like it was a fun place to be.


Remember this drive-in sign slogan seen at many drive-ins?

Do Not Blow Horn!
Blink Your Lights for Service.
Thank You


The Bridgeman's we probably enjoyed the most, besides the one downtown, was located at 3822 East Lake Street.  Bridgeman's in Richfield on 66th Street, west of Lyndale Avenue South was closed, summer, 2007.
Bridgeman's (formerly the Canteen and Parkway Restaurants) at 48th and Hiawatha Avenue is still in business!
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Downtown Minneapolis

621 Hennepin Avenue    Downtown Minneapolis
February 22, 1954         September 30, 1958

Marble Sundaes


   Turtle Sundae


Canteen Cafe
At the Parkway Motor Court

4733 &/or 4757 Hiawatha Avenue
November 13, 1956

A favorite spot for homeroom breakfasts.
If my memory serves me well, it was our senior year that Mrs. Straka's homeroom planned a breakfast at the Canteen.  Due to a kitchen fire the night before, we found the cafe closed.  We quickly changed our breakfast plans by deciding on a restaurant located on W Lake Street at Lyndale Avenue S (Clayton's Caf?).

~ HOMEROOM 102 ~
John Ackerman, Judy Andreasen, Bill Argue, Beth Backlin, Laurine Baltzer, Shirley Bostrom, Lynette Bray, Willard Byler, Sharon Carlson, Judy Chase, Lani Greenfield, Dale Hennessy,
Juanita Hernandez, Bob Hoberg, Janis Jagers, Dave W. Johnson, Alan Kuykendall, Peggy Marcy, Mike Monahan, Dave Moon, Ken Nielsen, Jay Norlin, Karen Precht, Charleen Puhl,
Bonnie Rannow, Cathy Raymond, Gwen Reid, Diane Rolland, Don Sabourin, Roy Shumway, Darrel Tadsen, Lance Way, and Pat Weeding

The Canteen was easily identifiable by the tall totem pole in the parking lot at the Parkway Motel next door.  The Canteen became the Parkway Restaurant, then closed and re-opened several years later as Bridgeman's
The Motor Court (motel) is gone, and a strip mall now occupies that area, but Bridgeman's is still there, as is Embers!

Looks a lot different from 1956 above!  Photos taken 5/1/09; one on right 9/2/09

It is an understatement to say that it is a bit of a challenge
to reach Bridgeman's, because of the renovation along Hiawatha Avenue that was completed a few years ago. 
If you are interested in going there, from Hiawatha Avenue turn east onto East 46th Street and then a quick right onto the strip mall's frontage road. 
Follow the frontage as far as the road allows.  You will have reached Bridgeman's with its distinctive blue awnings. 
This is the former Canteen Cafe!

Remember the totem pole?  It still exists!  
"It is lying on its side alongside Bridgeman's.  It is so iconic for those of us who grew up during the '50s, '60s, and '70s in that area." 
Here are some thumbnail photos to enlarge.  To view the totem pole, just click on each image below:

~ Cindy Knutson, RHS, '72 text ~

Photos taken 5/1/09

The Totem Pole


Bridgeman's & Embers in 2011!

NEW RED LOOK at 4010 Hiawatha Ave.  Photos taken 4/3/11

The totem pole is still there in 2011!

As for the Parkway Canteen . . .

I was one of the hotel's courtesy car drivers for many years, driving customers to and from the airport and other places. 
Ohhhhhhhh, the stories I could write about that place!  I love the pictures (above).  I watched as they tore down the motel and cried with a few of the old employees there.  I am glad the totem pole is still in existence, but I wanna know where Clyde is.  Clyde is the wooden Indian who sat in the lobby of the Parkway Motel; and for the crew who worked the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift, Clyde was our buddy. 
If anyone knows where Clyde is, pleeeeease let me know.  I would love to see him again.

I thought I saw him in a tobacco store on University Avenue and Lowry, but the eyes were different. 
Clyde, the wooden Parkway Motel Indian had a marble eye.  I know because I put it there when he accidently lost his wooden one.  It was my marble from home. 
Hahahahaha . . . people do strange things at 4:00 a.m.  I embedded it so tightly that I think if Clyde still exists somewhere, that that marble is still in his eye socket.  It would be so cool to know if he is still around. 
You can email the webmaster if you find the old boy!"

~ Fred Axberg, RHS '72 ~


~ Photo Source:  James D. Goudy, RfldHS '58 ~ 4/1/13


Charlie's A & W

   Photo source:  Colin Quinn



                                      Here you have some nostalgic advertising . . .

Charlie's, as we knew it, was owned by Charles and Beatrice Pieck and later by their daughter, Barbara (Pieck) Jensen, who graduated from Roosevelt in the class of '59  She married classmate Alton Jensen. 
The A & W was located at 4251 Hiawatha Avenue, on the northeast corner at East 43rd Street.

~ ~ ~ If anyone has additional photos of the root beer stand, we could post them here. ~ ~ ~


Focus on the Charlie's A & W sign that
John Tryggeseth, RHS '62 purchased years ago.

Note the smaller "Kemps" sign that is partially blocked.
It reads "Double Double Scoop for 5 Cents".


Harold Bergquist, John Christopherson & Donovan Ellendson
Charlie's A & W
43rd Street at left & Hiawatha Avenue in background
Submitted by Colin Quinn

Class of 1964:  Dawn Peterson, Jacquie Spence, far left & others
Charlie's A & W

Menu Favorites
Mini Burgers *
Burger Baskets
Baskets of 21 Popcorn Shrimp for 99
French Fries & Onion Rings (the greatest!)
Pork tenderloin Sandwiches
Steak Sandwiches
Root Beer in Frosted Mugs for 25
Root Beer in Mini Mugs
Black Cow
(root beer in a 16-oz. mug with scoop of vanilla ice cream)

 * "A hamburger was a sloppy joe, not a hamburger."
*Source: Mike Idziorek, RHS

Remember the electric Bug Zappers on the building and Bea's (Charlie's wife's) big Cadillac?
Amazing, too, we always seemed to find a parking spot!

"The red building behind was replaced by a more substantial building behind the drive-in.  It was small but it was where the Piecks lived during the season.  
Barb Pieck was in the class behind us (1959) and passed away in 1987.  I always remember the kid peeling potatoes in the back of the drive-in.  
Also the paper shack for those of us who were paper boys was behind the drive-in.  
For those of us watching calories...A&W root beer had a pound of sugar in every gallon."

~ Joe Ordos, RHS, 1958 via Char (Moery) Pehrson, RHS, 1961, 8/2/08 ~

"My biggest memory is their winter sign, 'Gone for the season, freezin' the reason'  Loved it even as a teen."
~ Linda (Goodman) Idziorek, RHS, '66 ~ 4/25/09
"I have lots of stories about working at Charlie's...and about the folks I worked for and with. 
One of the stories that most people knew if they ever rode with Bea in her Caddy is that she either never had been taught to drive or was scared to do so. 
Often, she would ask one of the "boys" to drive the car when we went out for pizza after work.  She liked to be around us kids. 
Anyway, about her driving, she was a nervous driver....she never went too fast but she went jerky....gas pedal...brake...gas pedal...brake...gas pedal...brake....gas pedal...brake...and then you have gone the 1st the 2nd block would be brake...gas pedal....brake...gas pedal....brake...gas pedal, etc.  We were all so thankful when we finally got to the restaurant.  We often went to Mama Rosa's down near 7 Corners."
~ Karen (Precht) Fortman ~ 5/9/09
"This is a fantastic website ... Talk about memories.
As for the drive-ins, Charlie's was the place to go after football games."
~ Jerry Sacre, RHS '55 ~ 8/29/09
"I am from class of '75 my first job was a car hop at the A&W on Hiawatha...I was 15...It did not last long...I quit...after the damn clips on the tray would not fit on the window and
four large root beer floats fell into the lap of the man in a suit on a Sunday after church...
I swore I would never ever be a waitress  again...but good memories."
~ Beverly Rowlett, SHS '75 ~ 5/30/10

Courtesy the Class of '64


Comanche Drive-In
Bloomington, 1956

7801 Lyndale Avenue South, Bloomington, Minnesota
"At the NE corner of 78th and Lyndale was the A & W Comanche Drive-In built in the mid-fifties."
Although this was not necessarily one of our hang-outs in '62, I thought it was an interesting contribution.

~ Jim Goudy, RfldHS '58  12/10/11 ~

Curran's Drive-In

4201 Nicollet Avenue

Early Menu Favorites
Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
Rich-O Root Beer & Lem-O-Lime Soda
Orange-Ade & Grape-O Soda
Ice Cream

Curran's Root Beer Stand - Opening Day

Curran's, a small 14' x 14' root beer stand located on the
southeast corner of 42nd and Nicollet Avenue has been in business at this location since May 17, 1948. 

Car hops served customers until 1954, and a counter and stools were added inside the establishment that same year. 
In 1955, a two-way car-to-kitchen speaker ordering-system was installed.  The dining room and coffee shop were built in about 1974 and the menu was expanded to meet growing business needs. 
In 1978, a 30-year era ended when Curran's discontinued the drive-in service and removed the speaker system. 

Over the next 30+ years, they continued to expand both their menu and the restaurant.
It continues to be a great place to eat today!

1949                               1949                              1950s                             1970s


Early photos courtesy of D. M. Curran


Dairy Queen

Comments from an Old-timer

"This is a fantastic website ... Talk about memories."

After perusing our site, a Roosevelt '55 alumnus emailed me, saying that he missed seeing anything about the Dairy Queen on the Parkway and Minnehaha Avenue. 
"I believe it was the first or one of the first Dairy Queens.  It was a great place in the summers of the '50s for a tall milk shake that cost 25.

The Dairy Queen is still there. 
It is on the northwest corner, but they have built a round-about where Minnehaha Avenue and the Parkway cross. 
The Canteen was located behind it, across the railroad tracks."
~ Jerry Sacre, RHS '55 ~

Today, I decided to check out this DQ on the Parkway & Minnehaha. 
As you can tell, it no longer looks as it did in high school.  I stopped for lunch and inside I spotted a sign, "Remodeling will start September 14th" (in about 1-1/2 weeks). 
They will probably add deep fryers, as they do not sell French fries now.  They sell potato chips. 
In my opinion, the building's exterior currently has a '70s look to it.

4740 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis, MN  55406

Click to enlarge these thumbnail photos to view a larger image.

This image below is probably more familiar to us . . .
The Minneapolis DQ pictured below, located at another site, has been in business since 1957 or 1960 (conflicting dates), according to an online source. 
The signage has been updated to reflect its partnership with Orange Julius. 
The vintage rooftop sign remains.

Carl's Dairy Queen
6014 Portland Avenue
Minneapolis, MN  55417

If anyone photos from the original DQ we could place them here in the website.

"Dairy Queens were 20 in 1957"

Lloyd Washburn RHS,'57

New Image

Two years later the DQ has taken on a new image. 
Here are some photos to view at Minnehaha Avenue & Nawadaha Boulevard

4740 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis, MN  55406

Click to enlarge these thumbnail photos to view a larger image.

Minnehaha Dairy Queen's New Bike Drive-Thru

The window on the south side of the new Dairy Queen near Minnehaha Park is going to be used as a bike drive-thru. 
An online source states:  "As far as I know, this is the first of its kind in Minneapolis.  I can imagine this filling up with families with their 6-person bike rentals from the park"

A comment from the webmaster . . .
Personally, I find the new building rather unattractive and boxy-looking.  I wish we could see photos from the original that existed in the '50s.

Dairy Queen
32nd & Minnehaha Avenue

Does anyone recall the Dairy Queen located on the northwest corner of 32nd and Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis?.
Mr. Nicola Sinigaglio Sr. and his wife, Beverly owned it from 1954 - 1958.

If you have photos it would be great to have them on this website.


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